There were a lot of people talking up small-ball on Tuesday night during that Royals game. But to paraphrase a hero of mine, allow me to observe that hokey strategies and ancient weapons like bunts are no match for a good three-run homer by your side, kid.
Every game but that first wild card game has been decided by big innings and homers and today’s Orioles-Tigers game is no exception. The Orioles struck first with a two-run homer by Nick Markakis in the bottom of the third. But then in the top of the fourth the Tigers hit back in a big way:
Wei-Yen Chen gave up a single to Torii Hunter and a double by Miguel Cabrera to lead things off. Then Victor Martinez singled to score Hunter, putting runners on first and third for J.D. Martinez. All he did is hit a three-run homer. And unlike Markakis’ homer, which was reviewed by replay officials to make sure it cleared the fence, it was a no-doubter. The next batter was Nick Castellanos, who hit a solo shot of his own to make it 5-2. Those five runs scored on ten pitches. It was something of a blitzkrieg.
As I hit “post,” that remains the score as we head into the bottom of the fourth. Chen has been yanked.
Viva big ball.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?